Friday, 30 October 2015

Key challenges in terms of using technologies in an educational context

Despite the potential of technologies to support learning, there is a gap between the rhetoric and reality; technologies are not being used extensively. Write a blog post describing what you think are some of the key challenges in terms of using technologies in an educational context. Also provide some examples of policy interventions that can be put in place to overcome this and how they might have an impact on actual practice.

There are a wide range of challenges to using technologies in an educational context, whatever the age range or level, in large part because of the competing priorities, political pressure and accountability frameworks designed without taking account of the changing world we work in and the inertia always found where people are busy and under stress.

In the table shown below I've set out the principle issues and attempted to put alongside the factors that can mitigate against them.

Click on the image to open the table as a pdf file

Leadership support appears frequently within the table and it is in that area I think I've gained the most from this week's reading and study. I found the 4-Quadrent Approach for thinking about innovation and leadership (Salmon 2005) in this week’s reading especially valuable as it helped me to frame how I view supporting development in a more focused way.

I've shown a revised version of the model below, using my own wording to better relate it to the way I'd anticipate using it in practice.

Click on table to view full size

In the top left quadrant we are dealing with well understood models for teaching and learning and considering the core tools that need to be available all the time. Change here will be measured, governed by clear processes and with priority for resources. Most of the activity will be around renewal and improvement of things we understand and training will be mainly induction for new people and refresher as versions change.

The bottom left quadrant is where practitioners seek to apply those tools in new ways of working. There may be a difference in scale, in the kind of use, meaning small amounts of targeted support and training, but they will form a small part of a wider project.

The top right quadrant is where we seek out new tools that may one day be useful for all areas and allow smaller projects to experiment and innovate. The underlying model remains the same – we understand what ‘good’ looks like, so we can quite methodically try something, review it’s effect and decide on it’s value. Training will generally be very localised, and usually self-administered by the team that are leading on the work. Much of this area is about getting out of the way and letting people try things out for themselves.

The bottom right quadrant is the hard stuff. Genuinely transformative change, bringing in new practice and applying new technologies in that area. It is the highest risk and most expensive area of activity.

In the conference I'm preparing to prepare our strategy for developing ICT in our schools, I think this kind of model will help us to focus on:

  • What are those core things we need to iterate, refine, maintain, and what elements are now past their prime and need to be abandoned?
  • What projects are likely to mean we need to look to use those core tools differently, and how will we train and support that?
  • How can we create an environment where new tools can be discovered and trialled, and potentially incorporated into the core in a sustainable way?
  • What transformative projects are on the 3-5 year horizon and how will they interact with tools we do not use at present?

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